After a tough two years, we’re finally able to get back out to exhibitions, conferences and events, reconnect with industry and gather some fresh ideas and initiatives. In this article, Amanda Trotman, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ODMA) provides her advice on how you can maximise the value of events like O-Show, taking place at the end of this month in Sydney.
Much of my career has focused on creating live events for a variety of industries. While, to be honest, I had not heard of event management as a career in school, once I started delivering events, they quickly became something I was very passionate about. Live events are so powerful and I am always keen to promote their benefits.
So why would you attend an industry event and how can you get the most out of the events you choose to attend?
Attending an event not only gives you access to a variety of educational content, product information and chances to interact with peers, it is an opportunity for you to get away from your routine and immerse yourself in an environment that will encourage you to look at your career or business with fresh eyes. I know, from personal experience, that a variety of great ideas to enhance my personal or business development, have come to me while at an event.
Industry event organisers, such as ODMA, bring together, in one location, liked minded people with shared interests and goals – an opportunity not to be missed, in my view.
Events provide dedicated time for you to focus on your business. This is not a luxury; it is a necessity to stay competitive in these challenging and fast-changing times. No matter what stage your career or business is at, there is excitement in not knowing what conversation you may end up a part of, what new client you might bring on board, which new peer you might meet, and where this may lead you.
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR NEXT EVENT
To make the most of your time at an industry event it’s important to plan well in advance.
- Consider your specific reasons for attending – For CPD? To have fun? To see a specific new product? Find an idea that will make your business unique? Build a strong network of peers around you to share ideas with?,
- Invest an hour before you attend to research the educational program and which sessions you will attend, as well as which suppliers you need to seek out,
- Read the speaker bios and consider questions you would love to ask them during Q&A opportunities,
- For interstate events, book accommodation and allow yourself an extra day to further explore your main areas of interest, or check out what other major events or shows are on at the same time and coordinate with other interested parties,
- Be aware of hosted networking events or initiatives in place to help you find like-minded people – is your badge colour coded for similar job titles or industries? are there networking areas or social functions to attend?,
- Provide input to organisers on things you would love to see at the event,
- Pre-book meetings with exhibitors to ensure you get the time you need to review specific products and services of interest,
- Share your learnings with your team when you return to work or via social media,
- Participate in post-event surveys with feedback on what worked and suggest improvements,
- Take notes and highlight any action items so that you can easily implement tasks and ideas once you return to your business,
- Swipe your badge or leave your business card with exhibitors that you did not get to chat with fully,
- Utilise social media – post on your LinkedIn account that you are attending the event and hope to catch up with your network there, engage with speakers on Twitter, use the event hashtag, connect and chat with other attendees on topics of interest,
- Offer your services to event organisers – maybe you can present on a hot topic or share your career story and raise your profile in the process, and
- Participate in prize draws – the odds are usually quite good.
Of course, for our exhibitors and other stakeholders, events are a key vehicle to help them efficiently launch new products and services and, by default, your attendance supports the industry in which you operate.
What has inspired me throughout my career is that I may just be facilitating a life changing moment for someone, or a unique experience or memory that will stay with that individual for a lifetime.
Events provide a real sense of belonging for attendees and often result in a real lift in energy and general well-being as we explore new possibilities. And let’s face it, after the couple of years we have all had, it’s time to get ourselves out there and bring on board some fresh ideas and initiatives. Your competitors will be.
Amanda Trotman is currently ODMA’s General Manager and Acting CEO. Prior roles have included in-house Events Manager for a global IT company, Founder and Managing Director of her own event management agency, General Manager of a National Real Estate Training events business, Business Development Manager for a Disability Provider and Executive Director of a Trade Association.